Launched in 2006, Twitter had an amazing roller-coaster life, starting out as a hit with a skyrocketing number of active users and eventually finding itself surrounded by skeptics lamenting the company’s stock performance, feeding on pessimistic news oozing from every digital channel, and complaining that the famous blue bird is flying low with a wounded wing. The tech pundits have already rushed to predict the company’s allegedly inevitable demise, and many of their followers (ironically, including those on Twitter) believe the company’s fate is not going to be any different from that of MySpace’s.
We all know what happened to MySpace. It was the ground breaking social network which everyone loved. Tom The Founder was in everyone’s friends list. The website had its time, and long before Facebook came, My Space was not simply roaming the alleys of the social media industry: it was its trendsetter. Yet in the end MySpace flubbed it. It wasn’t Facebook’s growing popularity that caused MySpace’a decline; rather, Facebook was able to rise due to MySpace’s mismanagement and failure to address users’ needs.
Those who did Digital Marketing in mid 2000s may remember MySpace’s catastrophic decision to feature ads in every available corner, a move that completely ruined the user experience and earned Rupert Murdoch (who orchestrated it) a few more ardent haters. Fortunately, Twitter’s story is different. While its top managers may be opting for lucrative jobs offers elsewhere, the network’s focus on the user should not be doubted, which is the main reason why so many people grew fond of it over the last decade. And they sure aren’t going to give up. So, let’s take a moment and go over some of the things that make Twitter stand out among the social networks and ensure its unique space in the modern digital world.
Media relies on Twitter
This may have seemed a bad joke a decade ago, but it’s today reality: media relies on Twitter for real time news updates, which no other social network can boast. Sure, you may see a sporadic quote from a celebrity’s Facebook page published on the news, but it is Twitter that ignites polemical fires and turns into a glorious harbinger of news. The Daily Show may joke about it, insinuating the news you read and hear are derived from the tweeting network, but the truth remains such: a considerable (and growing) amount of information the news present you with is derived from tweets. And we don’t even mean celebrities; quite the contrary, it is most often regular people at the event’s forefront who share what they saw and thought, often in an uncensored stream of consciousness restrained only by the 140-character Twitter limit.
Twitter is Great for Businesses
Speaking of which: the strict 140-character limit Twitter imposes on any post (a link or an image decreasing that limit further) forces businesses to be superbly concise in their messaging when addressing a potential customer. Ever saw those Facebook ad posts ending in “Read More”? Well, how many times did you click in to finish reading them? With the stingy character limit, you are not going to ramble about your product because if you are cutting off in the middle of a sentence your potential customers just won’t buy it: neither metaphorically, nor literally. No, they’ll shrug their shoulders and glaze over a dozen similar posts that failed to capture their attention in the priceless second and a half that was allotted to make a positive impression. Ironically, the impression was there, at least as the paid side is concerned. But the impression alone doesn’t earn you value.
Twitter Paid Campaigns
Which brings us to Paid Social. If you managed Twitter Paid Campaigns a few years ago you could be overwhelmed by the number of targeting options available. It felt like you could zoom in on your customer so much as to literally target individual people. No, their number did not decrease over time: but the other social networks caught up. Twitter was at the forefront of creating phenomenally focused advertising campaigns, a huge tool for achieving a high ROI, and its interface remains much user-friendlier than, for example, that of Facebook. It’s an example of simplicity taking the upper hand: with a simple logic wrapped into a simple color scheme, Twitter’s ad UI drives it home while those of other social networks make you struggle.
Back in 2009, the U.S. government oversaw extensive use of Twitter at the hands of politicians, congressmen, citizens, and the Obama administration itself. The election campaign of 2016 confirmed the trend, the network’s users engaging with key political figures in direct conversation. Interestingly, while few people believed Donald Trump’s claim that he’d be able to turn Florida republican, when that actually happened
In fact, some experts attribute Hillary Clinton’s failure to capitalize on what seemed a country-wide democratic support to the suboptimal social media strategies used by her team. Except when we say “social media” in the political context, we really mean “Twitter”. For more information, read the article “Twitter and Politics”.
Politics in Other Countries
The U.S. is not the only country to turn to Twitter to express its political feelings. Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Ukraine and many other country in a power crisis turn to Twitter to reflect upon the situation in real time. The effectiveness of this strategy is suggested by the fact that some of these countries ban Twitter discussions. Which, of course, doesn’t prevent users from tweeting, teaching a fair number of people the tricks of relying on remote IPs.
The Twitter Struggle
Does this mean Twitter is blooming? In many ways, it is challenged to retain the growth factor. For instance, as much as Twitter gives an insight on real time events, people use the opportunity to spread fake news. Also, a disturbingly large number of “active” users appear to be mere bots created for spam and other vicious purposes, irritating both regular users and businesses. The number of new active users is nowhere near the Facebook’s pace. Finally, the top managers are fleeing…
Twitter does take measures, though, banning the harassers, revenge porn fanatics and many unwanted users, but it is a never-ending cycle. Think of the mythological seven headed serpent; you cut off one head to find two more in its place. Twitter’s problem is that the challenges it’s facing are but direct and inevitable corollaries of the very trump cards that ensured its success in the past. And, since the success was rather triumphant, it does take more than ordinary thinking to address the issues.
It seems all Twitter needs to turn its current struggle into prosperity is one genius in the CEO seat able to back up his or her brilliant vision with ruthless action. Will Twitter find its own Elon Musk? Well, if it does, those who didn’t buy Twitter’s stock at current prices surely are going to bite their elbows, just like some did after Tesla’s stock underwent a tenfold increase in price in just a couple of years.
Why we won’t allow Twitter to fail?
Imagine that Twitter is gone. What impact will it have on the public? Well, for one thing, there’d be millions of former users missing an opportunity to connect with the most poignant news and lionized celebrities, the opportunity other social networks don’t quite offer. There wouldn’t be any real-time exchange of views on current events, nor hashtag revolutions that good brands and companies use to bring quality services to clients… The vacuum would be soon filled with a barrage of rival companies, with a slew of self proclaimed pundits (college grads as well as dropouts) pretending to create a new big dot com product while really just trying to court the disappointed Twitter crowd… No, this just looks unreal, doesn’t it? The very thought of Twitter being gone doesn’t make sense.
It’s too deep inside us at this point, not even so much as a social network, but as an idea. And ideas are the most valuable things in this world.
The good ones, anyway.